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The Town in the Fog (A Spellbound Adventure!)

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in a dark room in an old, creepy looking cottage there was barely a sound being made. The only continuing rackets that could be heard was from the constant scratching of a quill on parchment, some rather disturbing giggling that occasionally devolved into a whimper. Alone at a desk there was a pony hurriedly writing something down as a dark and ominous aura began to glow around them. Just as the author of the letter finished the last sentence and powerful wind blasted through the house and sent the paper flying far out the window…

Not long after the gust there was a loud sound that could have been heard all the way from Canterlot. Following it was a surge of mysterious magical energy that erupted from the lone shack and spread all around it soon engulfing the entirety of the town this house was adjacent to in addition to some of the woodlands nearby. Around the borders of the magical anamoly there began to form a thick fog, dense enough to completely obscure any attempts to peer through it, magical or otherwise. Just outside the borders the wind brought the written message to a mailbox just as a mailmare came to it…

---Canterlot, Spellbound Guild Hall---

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A fairly loud snore was ‘gracing’ the guild hall this afternoon. The owner of this snore being a cream colored unicorn with a straw hat covering her face and resting in a hammock she’d set up a few minutes ago. Presteza had tuckered herself out from the long night of magic practice the guild had. Spellbound hosted a whole bunch of magical experts with unconventional talents owned by sometimes even more unconventional ponies. There were equine here who if given enough time, could built an entire castle made of ice. a mare who could level entire buildings in a matter of seconds. A student of the arcane sciences who could dance like a ballerina whilst teleporting all around the room. They had one member who could summon up and dance with flames. There would probably be even more impressive individuals to join the guild’s ranks one day too…

The impressive displays she’d seen the other night had stoked her creative furnace, The snoring mare had spent the better part of night sketching pictures of the various members at work honing their skills… something she should get around to doing sometime. Soon there was loud couple noises, a rumbling noise and three sharp knocks. The mare was shocked out of her sleep and slipped out of her hammock on to the floor, slamming her face into the floor. “Ow…” She said rather flatly before getting to her hooves and rubbing some of the sleep from her weary eyes as the knocking continued.

“OI! Keep yer bloody shirt on, I’m comin’!” Shouted the mare, a bit grumpy from having her rest interupted. Soon the door was opened, “Alright, wot’s the hurr--”

*Boom!*

The painter stood there a moment as a wind carried over a piece of parchment that hit her square in the face. Once she took the article from her visage she looked around and saw everything looked fine outside… where the hay did that explosion come from? The mare slowly stepped back inside the guild hall and shut the door before scanning over the letter… Her eyes widened suddenly before she looked back to the depth of the guild hall and shouted, “EVERYONE! C’MERE, YA GOTTA SEE THIS!”

---The Area Formerly Known as Hollow Shades---

The letter had said that Hollow shades was in trouble and colt did that seem to be an understatement. The area were the town stood as now engulfed by deep, dark, intensel thick looking fog. Every few seconds there was a series of purple electrical arcs spreading over it’s surface before vanishing into the banks of the -for now- unmoving bank. Around it there were various ponies, many of them scholarly looking and with magical instruments trying to discover the nature of this event from outside. So far there were quite a few things that were observed by the ponies who just stuck a hoof into the fog; one pony who had done so froze in place and once the hoof was withdrawn, a cut on it had fully healed and the pony’s mane had grown a bit. Any of the pony’s who had left the borders of the fog bank would notice that suddenly their entire sense of timing was now either slower or faster than they had been before, although this eventually healed itself.

The trip here seemed strangely quick to those who had joined them, fortunately Hollow Shades wasn’t very far from Canterlot (probably why that boom was able to be heard from there). The ponies who had come were, Javasun, Moondance, Presteza, and Pocket Change. Moondancer was the leader and founder of the guild. Javasun was an exceptionally intelligent engineer. Presteza was a prodigious and prolific painter with some unusual magic at her disposal. Pocket change was a junior archeologist and experienced adventurer. The Artist of the group gulped as she looked over the sight before her, “S’pretty forebodin’ ain’t it?”

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“Eh, I’ve seen worse... I think.....” Such was the faux-chalant response of Moondancer, one of the few ponies who’ve ever voluntarily braved the ashes and fires of the Dragon Peaks. Perhaps after her experiences in the volcanic breeding ground of dragons, this mare wasn’t as easily spooked by a magic fog as she would have been in the past. In fact, it rather reminded Moony of several scenes in the Dusk Duchess “immersive” graphic novel she purchased from the House of Enchanted Comics. Still, she wouldn’t want to attempt walking into the mysterious cloud.

When Presteza told everypony in Spellbound about the mystery distress letter that somehow came from Hollow Shades, Moondancer dropped all her other business packed one thing in her saddlebags... lumi seeds. Why lumi seeds you ask? Long story short, they were passed down from Moony’s grandmother, who wished the seeds to be planted in the woods outside Hollow Shades and reintroduce the majestic luminescent trees back into the world. But things had always been coming up in Moony’s schedule, from Spellbound to schoolwork and whatnot. So the girl had simply been putting the trip to Hollow Shades off, right up until now.

For the time being, Moondancer found herself more discouraged seeing the multitude of magic scientists and other professionals running about, many of which the young mare recognized, not making much progress with the mystery fog. Seeing that didn’t give Moony much encouragement that her small group of enthusiasts would have much better luck dealing with the situation. “Well guys,” her ears flopped downwards in worry; “what do we do now? Ask the fog if it’ll like, kindly go away?”

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Pocket Change quickly hopped on the ‘Spooky-Hollow-Shades'-Creepy-Fog-Poo-Poo-Parade' Express alongside his beloved Moondancer, "Phooey, if you think this place is creepy, you've never seen my brother's basement lair. Now that's creepy." The stallion quickly lost his snark as the small group learned more about the strange fog. He always dreaded how some ponies would react to new magical phenomenon. See something magical you've never seen before? Stick a body part through it! From what he had heard, this sounded like this was going to be at least an interesting way to spend some time. He and Moondancer and planned on visiting the sleepy little village to finish a task the mare's grandmother had started many years ago, so he jumped at the chance of helping Presteza and the town of Hollow Shades.

"Oh.", the stallion never did like to see his mare upset like that, so he quickly scooted a little closer to her, "Don't worry Mooney, we'll figure out something. From what we've heard, I'm guessing there is some sort of chrono-time magic going on. Thankfully, it just looks like whatever is placed in the fog just ages a few days. Could be worse. Just wonder how long.", The unicorn pulled out a small pocket watch, and knowing the dangers of mixing magics, he placed it on a stout stick that, until now was resting on the ground near his hooves. "Wonder if this is just a simple barrier to keep ponies out. Do you think dispel magic would have any affect on it?"

After glancing at his watch to see the current time, he placed the stick in his mouth and quickly stuffed the stick and watch into the fog for a moment before pulling it out, making sure not to get into the fog itself. "Hmmmm.", he muttered while he glanced down at the clock. Along with having the minutes and hours, his watch also had days and months on it as well.

OOC: How much time had passed on his clock?

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Java listened to the others' comments with a mild interest. Though, what had really caught his attention, and even earned a light look of worry, was Pocket change's about his brother's “Lair”. Now while the engineer's own basement was actually his basement, he designed it as a metaphorical and VERY literal cave inspired from a comic “Bat Mare”. Now... for the dork inside of himself... he could easily guess what Pocket Change's brother could possibly be like. Which... proved to be a very terrifying thought. A thought only fit for the darkest corners of nerdome.

“Uh.... yeah... Pocket Change's... brother's dungeon aside...” The stallion began shortly after grimacing from his own wild imagination. The stallion pointed to the corrupted air, filled with sparks of purple magic and added his two bits about the situation. “This place is about as creepy as it's always been. But... and don't quote me on this one... It's a bit livelier than it's typically been on my previous visits.

His eyes soon fell onto Pocket Change, whom was placing a pocket watch down on a stick. He wasn't sure what he was doing, maybe it was a magic item? The earth pony will never know. And if he did, he certainly wouldn't part with his endlessly deep pockets! The stallion soon gave a half hearted shrug and began to trot into the fog. Sure... it might not have been the wisest of things to do when investigating the scene of this mysterious crime. But to any professional engineer, it would make no logical sense to come up with an idea before the problem is fully known!

“Well my friends! No use in making ideas yet! Since we don't quite know what we're dealing with, lets step on inside,” The stallion chimed as he takes a very jaunty trot to meet the foul evil that possessed these lands. Inside that corrupted fog. He stopped just before he entered the monstrosity, to turn and give the group a playful grin. "Looks fun yah? You lot coming?"

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“Eh, I’ve seen worse... I think.....”

“Well guys,” her ears flopped downwards in worry; “what do we do now? Ask the fog if it’ll like, kindly go away?”

Pocket Change quickly hopped on the ‘Spooky-Hollow-Shades'-Creepy-Fog-Poo-Poo-Parade' Express alongside his beloved Moondancer, "Phooey, if you think this place is creepy, you've never seen my brother's basement lair. Now that's creepy."

"Oh.", the stallion never did like to see his mare upset like that, so he quickly scooted a little closer to her, "Don't worry Mooney, we'll figure out something. From what we've heard, I'm guessing there is some sort of chrono-time magic going on. Thankfully, it just looks like whatever is placed in the fog just ages a few days. Could be worse. Just wonder how long.", The unicorn pulled out a small pocket watch, and knowing the dangers of mixing magics, he placed it on a stout stick that, until now was resting on the ground near his hooves. "Wonder if this is just a simple barrier to keep ponies out. Do you think dispel magic would have any affect on it?"

After glancing at his watch to see the current time, he placed the stick in his mouth and quickly stuffed the stick and watch into the fog for a moment before pulling it out, making sure not to get into the fog itself. "Hmmmm.", he muttered while he glanced down at the clock. Along with having the minutes and hours, his watch also had days and months on it as well.

OOC: How much time had passed on his clock?

“Uh.... yeah... Pocket Change's... brother's dungeon aside...” The stallion began shortly after grimacing from his own wild imagination. The stallion pointed to the corrupted air, filled with sparks of purple magic and added his two bits about the situation. “This place is about as creepy as it's always been. But... and don't quote me on this one... It's a bit livelier than it's typically been on my previous visits.

“Well my friends! No use in making ideas yet! Since we don't quite know what we're dealing with, lets step on inside,” The stallion chimed as he takes a very jaunty trot to meet the foul evil that possessed these lands. Inside that corrupted fog. He stopped just before he entered the monstrosity, to turn and give the group a playful grin. "Looks fun yah? You lot coming?"

Presteza was a bit less than thrilled about looking at the mysterious fog bank before them. The longer she stared at it, the more her eyes seemed to glaze over as she thought she heard a faint whisper in her ear, strangely the voice sounded like her own. She was positive these weren't thoughts but actual spoken words being muttered quietly into her ears... The painter looked around a moment and took a deep breath to calm herself. She looked to the group with her and smiled softly, if there was any group of ponies she wanted to go on a scary adventure with, it was these three.

She managed to regain her presence of mind in time to see pocket change poke a stick with his watch into the fog, "Careful there, Pocket!" she stepped up towards the white unicorn and let out a sigh of relief when she saw the stallion pull it back just as soon as he entered it. Once he'd pull it back out and tried to check the change in time, he might be confused to see that the hands were actually flying around wildly.. but backwards. They must have rounded the clock at least enough times to indicate rewinding back about three days... before going right back to their original position and being put back into their original position. One passing scientist stopped and stared a moment, "That's a first" he said before walking over, having heard him suggest dispelling the field. "Actually we've tried using at least ten unicorns simultaneously casting the spell to try and get rid of this thing... but all we got was them out of commission for a week... and when they left, our correspondents back in Canterlot said they'd been gone about a day." The scientist then calmly strolled off before returning to the various devices he was using the measure the strange readings this event created. "Oh! if you try and go in... I suggest you wear a respirator, I have a theory that needs testing. Some have tried going in and well... they either get completely turned around or they don't come out at all... I think inhaling the stuff messes with a pony's sense of direction."

-----Into the fog...-----

The Mare galloped over and snatched up a respirator and put it over her muzzle. Her voice was distorted through the filter of the device, "Okay, luv." The silver maned unicorn looked back at her friends and smiled under her mask, "Once we got in there... I got a feelin' we wont be comin' out until this fog is gone... I'm fine with that, cause we're about ta save a whole town!" She said with her usual cheer returning to her voice before she set a hoof inside and paused a moment, "Uh... that's weird. I think I hear singing..." The mare set another hoof in and then another before her body was submerged by the thick fog. The mare pushed forward, saying nothing as the group's breathing was growing heavy. When they got deep enough it looked almost as if the was nothing around them for miles... just the fog and what looked like faint movements of figures that passed by and dissipated before one could touch them... sometimes in the faintest of distances they could see something huge slither on the close horizon. Leading them forward was a line of floating lights that died the moment something stepped under them

Presteza is the only one who can hear the music. As the group trudges on they'd find themselves to be getting tired very fast... regardless of how much coffee they tend to drink :razz:

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If it had been up to Moondancer, she would have left it up to Twilight Sparkle and her buddies to do the dangerous fog and step into the fog themselves. Clearly, that sort of thing was working out very well for Equestria, so much so that they might as well be the official defense force of the kingdom. But they weren’t anywhere to be found, and nopony around seemed to have indicated that the Ponyville Six had already showed up. At any rate, it appeared Java and Presteza were more than willing to charge into the mystery fog, and Moony sure as heck wasn’t going to let them run off on their own.

 

And so Moondancer strapped on a respirator too, and followed her friend into the magic veil. Of course, even as they were still outside, Pressy showed signs of going... weird? “Huh?” Moony questioned; “I don’t hear anything. You sure you’re not just playing a song in your head, Pressy? Celestia knows how much I do that with Vinyl Scratch’s stuff.....” If that wasn’t what Pressy was doing in her head, then that didn’t bode well for the other Spellbound ponies.

 

As if Moondancer didn’t need any further reminders that this was all a bad idea, her movements turned more sluggish the further they trotted towards the veiled Hollow Shades. It was as if something was sapping out energy from within her. The young mare was in no mood to find out how much further she could take of this; “I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think these respirator thingies work in this magic muck.”

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"Sometimes it's wise to test the water with your hoof before diving in.", the stallion added as he pulled his pocket watch. The stallion removed the watch nearly as swiftly as he placed it into the fog and watched silently as the timepiece's hands fly about backwards. "And I said 'basement', not dungeon. Sprocket would not be into those sort of things." While Pocket Change considered his brother to be one of the smartest and most cleverest of ponies that he knew, poor Sprocket suffered from an assortment of issues that kept him forever locked away in his underground dwelling. They had managed to get him out not that long ago, but they picked the worst possible time to do so, which was during the wedding of Princess Cadance and Shining Armor. Considering what happened at that event, things only managed to get worse for the poor stallion.
 
"Check this out.", the unicorn showed off his watch before placing it back into his pocket.He turned his attention to Presteza, "Oh, do you have any idea what stopped them and put them out of commission for so long?", following the others, the stallion scooped up one of the respirators and slipped it on. Before they entered, the unicorn made sure all of his companion's respirators were properly strapped on, before asking Moondancer, "Does this okay?", he moved his head around, making sure the mare got a good look at his current choice of head-gear, "Need to make sure this is perfect before going in."
 
Once things were settled, Pocket Change gathered up his courage and slowly followed the group into the forbidden and somewhat spooky fog.
 
into the fog.....................
 
"Ho-Boy.", was the first thing the stallion muttered to himself as he passed through the strange mist, "Almost feels like I've been walking for days. Legs feel like...oooph.", while Pocket Change would have prefered to curl up into a little ball and get some shut-eye, he knew that would probably not end well. "I have a feeling if we did not wear the 'thingies', our minds would have been clouded as well. Wonder how long we've actually been walking...For..."

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Java was probably the only one not wearing a breathing mask. In fact... he was actually confused to why everyone else was wearing a respirator! Sure... he could always pull one from his jacket. He always keeps a strange variety of equipment with him at all times. But it still doesn't explain why they were wearing it!

Was it some sort of fad going on now that he wasn't aware of? Was he to lame to join them in the new fashion statement. The self conciously hurt stallion soon mentally pouted as he ran that thought over his head multiple times. Along with the the thought of him yawning so often.

 

His gaze then shifted down Pocket Change when he asked a golden question. Something he had actually been wondering when he was waiting for his friends to show up in this fog!

“Uh...” he started, before letting out a soft and long yawn. Once it ended, he smacked his lips and continued, “We're only about ten meters in. So I'd say for about thirty seconds. Either....” The stallion soon yawned once more.

“... either we are out of shape, or the environment is a little... dangerous. I'm willing to bet on the later... as this is only the second day out of the six that I am usually awake for without sleep... I suggest we find some place that isn't... so draining” Java hummed as he slowly sunk down into the soft grass, practically willingly giving in to the thought of catching up with some well needed sleep.

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The voices of her friends were beginning to sound faint as the music grew louder in her mind, her eyes glazing over as the sound began to fill her mind and the sleepiness overtook her. Something about the mysterious tones were practically pulling on the painter's mind and forcing her to try and keep trudging on despite her increasing sleepiness. The sleep inducing properties of the atmosphere eventually overtaking her, followed by the rest of her friends. Presteza simply fell over on her side, the fog around the ponies fetlocks rising up to completely shroud her form. Any of her friends that tried to fish her out of it would find... nothing there...

 

---???---

 

She was alone when she woke up... and not where she remembered she was last. The music had stopped and now there was only a deathly silence that she could hear. Once the mare opened her eyes she could see she was standing on a what could only be described as a pillar of land floating in nothingness. The ground she stood on was covered in plush bluish-green grass, a small cobblestone path that lead straight off the ledge before her. When the mare looked around she saw all the rest of her group had finally joined her, standing on the same strange structure in an inky, black void. When the painter stepped forward she let out a sharp cry of pain as she heard some buzzing in her head before it stopped... 

 

There was a sustained buzzing that now the entire party could hear that eventually changed into what one could only describe as a series of familiar voices all speaking in perfect unison. When they took a single step forward the words formed in each of the ponies minds, saying not to move. Whether they listened or not the voices would stay silent before speaking back up and saying to nevermind their previous words. "Go forward." They said... The pillar around the group was beginning to very slowly crumble around them. The cream colored unicorn took a few steps back and nudged the pony closest to her, "Um... you guys heard that, right?... and yer seein' this right?"

 

Eventually the platform would completely give way and the group would plummet downwards, before beginning to slow in the middle of their fall. The group's hooves were met by the feeling of soft cold snow underhoof. Around them there was covering of snow that almost completely hid their hooves from eachother's view. Temperatures around the members of spellbound had suddenly dropped to freezing cold levels. From beneath the snowy covering soon emerged a series of walls and structures that looked somewhat similar to canterlot architecture, to one pony present this place may seem somewhat familiar. Out of the corner of all there eyes one might see what appeared to be the shadows of fillies and colts giggling in amusement. In the distance the team coudl hear a faint buzzing that to a white coated stallion would seem eerily familiar; like that of changelings... 

 

There were soon the sound of several light thuds that rained down upon the barely lit landscapes. The only thing that let the ponies see ahead of them were the eerie gas lamps that lined a growing, snow covered , corridor that seemed to stretch farther and farther into the darkness. Presteza looked to one of the things that had fallen and showed it to Moondancer, "Uhh... wot do ya make o' this?" The item she held in her magic was a scroll... one identical to one that a young moondancer would have seen in her grandmother's home. Suddenly the cream colored unicorn jumped and dropped the roll of paper as a loud, but monotonous voice; the one from before spoke again.

 

 

"More memories... more stories, please."

Edited by Presteza
Forgot something ;(

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Based on all the bizarre stuff occurring around the group, Moondancer processed that they almost certainly entered a collective illusion. While she wasn’t falling into blackness or freezing her flank off. Shared illusions weren’t unheard of; many enchanted comics out on the market (Power Ponies being the most prominent example) allowed multiple ponies to “immerse” themselves in the same story. Generally though, the magical realities Moony immersed herself in tended not to be as freaky as this one.

 

It kinda seemed like they were in a fake Canterlot, but Moondancer found it rather hard to tell with all the weirdness going on. Buzzing wings, laughing shadows, gas lamps, and oh yeah, the temperature being so cold that Moony’s teeth chattered throughout her shivering. Too bad this illusion didn’t give anypony winter jackets. Instinctively, the young mare pressed herself against Pocket Change’s side hoping that his bodily warmth would help drive some of that cold off.

 

Presteza looked to one of the things that had fallen and showed it to Moondancer, "Uhh... wot do ya make o' this?" The item she held in her magic was a scroll... one identical to one that a young moondancer would have seen in her grandmother's home.

 

If things weren’t horrible enough, they were now when Moondancer saw in front of her an unpleasantly familiar scroll. The contents of it were not remarkably special in their own right, but the unicorn mare nonetheless remembered it all-to-well. For this had been the last scroll that Grandma Moonswirl ever got the chance to show young Moondancer, before the elder... moved on to the next world. “Gr-grandma?” Moony trembled; “But- how?” Indeed a good question; how did this one scroll show up in this illusion? Can the Fog also access the memories of-?

 

"More memories... more stories, please."

 

That voice answered Moondancer’s question, riling her up in the process. “WHAT ARE YOU?” the shouting girl powered up her horn and pointed it in the direction of the darkness; “AND WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA, YOU JERK?”

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"Seriously?", Pocket Change could not believe his ears. Did they all blunder into some sort of crazy 'wild magic' zone? He had heard stories about areas where great magical battles had been fought. These battles used such powerful magics that they left an permanent scar where they had been fought. Some areas somehow would become completely devoid of any magics, while some changed whatever magics were being used into something more chaotic.  "No-no.". He quickly made his way over to the stallion and tried to push him back up, "Don't rest. I have a feeling whatever is doing this wants us to stop and take a nap. Then we would be completely helpless and probably all end up in a bad hotel in a bathtub full of ice and without our kidneys!", if Java did not stir, Pocket would try once again, "Come on! You've managed this before. Back in school, and even your job! You might be pooped, but you can still keep moving!"

 

And move they all did.

 

"Oh for Starswirl's sake!", the stallion gasped as they all appeared to be falling. Falling fast. Then slow. And then there was ice. Oh how Pocket wish he wore pants!

 

And things went from weird, to slightly creepy, to full-blown-crazy-town! This was getting to be a little too much, but he could not be scared! Especially with his friends at his side. Especially with his very special some-pony near as well. He needed to be strong from her and everypony else! He felt her press against his side. Oh poor Moony! Pocket Change quickly removed his rugged 'Adventure!' jacket and placed it on his favorite mare. It was a little on the big side for her, but it would hopefully keep her warm, and besides, he also had his undershirt on, which was also part of the 'Adventure' line.

 

This was obviously some sort of a magical trap. Was it an illusion? While still keeping himself close to Moondancer, the unicorn closed his eyes and pictured the spot they had been before. With this image hardwired into his mind, he slowly opened his eyes and hoped he managed to defeat the strange illusion....

 

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Java stirred lightly when he felt something shoving him. Then came the shouting. The engineer had half the mind to push the pony away. The danger of them missing their kidneys was unlikely in this creepy town. But… what did bring the stallion back to his hooves in a rather comic display of frantically scrambling up, was the mention of him doing a good job of staying awake in school.

“Wait what!?” The stallion chirped, his eyes snapping onto Pocket Change. He… didn’t remember him being in the same school he had been in Canterlot. Was he? Was it in college where he might have seen him? Or was it….. back then.

 

Well… any chance to think further on it was stripped away when the group fell. “BY STAR SWIRLS BEARD,” Java swore as he kicked his hooves wildly in surprise. With the wind tearing at him, it wasn’t long till he landed face first in the tiled hallway. His rump stuck high in the air with his legs dangling just above his head.

Eventually, his lower half slumped and fell over back onto the ground where it belong.
“Errrgh… earth ponies aren’t supposed to fly like this,” The stallion whined. He slowly raised up on his hooves, and quickly took note to how oddly cold it was.

 

His eyes gazed off to the nearest window, squinting as he saw the faintest hints of shadows roaming the playground nearby. His eyes soon returned to the hall with a sneaking suspicion of where he was. “This….” he began with a distant note. His hooves slowly picked up to turn himself around to face the group. “Is… a little familiar…” he hummed quietly.

 

"More memories... more stories, please."

 

More... memories? The stallion thought to himself. His eyes curiously scanned along the walls till he noticed something... peculiar. His eyes drifted to a painting. The painting was just a blotch of colors that vaguely resembled a pony. And to make things even stranger, the painting was so generic that it was actually repeated down the halway with many different sizes. Some in little trophy cases, and some so large that it should just dominate the wall.

"Take a look at that..." he hummed as he gestured to each of the paintings with a hoof. "I think we can label this erie... but what significant value could that possibly have?"
 

 

A knot in his gut rose a a trace of anxiety in the stallion. Like he remembered where he was. Just… not exactly what it was.

 

Deciding to push the thought away, the stallion reached inside of a pocket and pulled out a large trench coat and draped it over his favorite mare.

“Well, I don’t think our questions will be answered if we just stand here,” he hummed as he now pulled a coat out of his pocket, and tossed it to Moony.

 

“So! We best to get moving, yes,” he chimed energetically, now tossing a parka onto Pocket Change.

 

Then finally, a pair of earmuffs… for himself.

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That voice answered Moondancer’s question, riling her up in the process. “WHAT ARE YOU?” the shouting girl powered up her horn and pointed it in the direction of the darkness; “AND WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA, YOU JERK?”

 

The voice paused a moment before eventually speaking up once more. The dark void of the sky that surrounded them was pierced by what appeared to be a magical sigil that was emblazoned on nothing but the air above them. It looked like some of the older magic symbols from the days of more primitive magics. The pattern in the air above the group appeared to be a series of violet lines that formed a sort of eye... for a second it might look to an expert mage like somepne was going to teleport the group somewhere, but instead of any magical swell... the sigil blinked.

 

"Peek-a-boo. We see you... Welcome to the --"

 

The sound of the location they were in was only heard as a series of loud, earsplitting, unintelligible noises before the voice continued as if nothing had happened... A series of the eerie gas lamps that lined the hallway in front of them lighting up to a door at the far end of the corridor. The eye dissapeared a moment before then appearing directly in front of pocket change.

 

"No closing eyes.You are here now...Follow us. Deeper, Deeper, Deeper..."

 

Soon the strange eye disappeared into the blackness from whence it came...

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 “This….” he began with a distant note. His hooves slowly picked up to turn himself around to face the group. “Is… a little familiar…” he hummed quietly.

 

"Take a look at that..." he hummed as he gestured to each of the paintings with a hoof. "I think we can label this erie... but what significant value could that possibly have?"

 

Deciding to push the thought away, the stallion reached inside of a pocket and pulled out a large trench coat and draped it over his favorite mare.

“Well, I don’t think our questions will be answered if we just stand here,” he hummed as he now pulled a coat out of his pocket, and tossed it to Moony.

 

“So! We best to get moving, yes,” he chimed energetically, now tossing a parka onto Pocket Change.

 

Then finally, a pair of earmuffs… for himself.

 

The mare shivered a bit, freezing in place as if she were made of ice for a while as she drifted off into her memories. The bitter cold, harsh winds and almost nonexistant visibily flooding her mind as she remembered one of the most horrifying experiences in her life. Back when she was a filly she had experienced this exact temperature and cold climate. She'd gotten in an arguement with her brother in the northern mountains and ran away into the storm only to be lost in the terrifying whiteout. It was basically luck that brought her to the cave where she'd managed to keep herself somewhat warm until Silverheart had arrived. 

 

In her mind she was stuck wandering that void of endless, cold, white. The only thing that brought her out of it was the sudden sensation of warmness as a coat was draped over her. The painter sniffed once and immediately recognized who had put it on her and who it had belonged to. When she was brought back to 'reality' she smiled softly and looked to her coltfriend and gently nuzzled against him, "Th-thanks, lov." the mare spoke through her chattering teeth, "I bloody hate the cold... I-I guess we just keep goin'." The cream colored unicorn began to walk forward down the hall but then walked back and gestured for Java and her friends to try and stay close as possible.

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And things went from weird, to slightly creepy, to full-blown-crazy-town! This was getting to be a little too much, but he could not be scared! Especially with his friends at his side. Especially with his very special some-pony near as well. He needed to be strong from her and everypony else! He felt her press against his side. Oh poor Moony! Pocket Change quickly removed his rugged 'Adventure!' jacket and placed it on his favorite mare. It was a little on the big side for her, but it would hopefully keep her warm, and besides, he also had his undershirt on, which was also part of the 'Adventure' line.

 

Moondancer was thankful to have such a chivalrous coltfriend as Pocket Change. True, his adventuring jacket was a little large, but it didn’t have to fit comfortably on Moony in order to do its job. Honestly, it made the young mare regret not doing more private Spellbound thingies with Pocket, because some of their best romantic moments arose while doing magic-related stuff when it was just the two of them. For now, Moondancer gave a relieved sigh in return for having some other warmth now along with an appreciative smile at her number one stallion; “Thanks babe, I owe you one.”

 

The voice paused a moment before eventually speaking up once more. The dark void of the sky that surrounded them was pierced by what appeared to be a magical sigil that was emblazoned on nothing but the air above them. It looked like some of the older magic symbols from the days of more primitive magics. The pattern in the air above the group appeared to be a series of violet lines that formed a sort of eye... for a second it might look to an expert mage like somepony was going to teleport the group somewhere, but instead of any magical swell... the sigil blinked.

 

"Peek-a-boo. We see you... Welcome to the --"

 

The sound of the location they were in was only heard as a series of loud, earsplitting, unintelligible noises before the voice continued as if nothing had happened... A series of the eerie gas lamps that lined the hallway in front of them lighting up to a door at the far end of the corridor. The eye dissipated a moment before then appearing directly in front of pocket change.

 

"No closing eyes.You are here now...Follow us. Deeper, Deeper, Deeper..."

 

Soon the strange eye disappeared into the blackness from whence it came...

 

This was getting out of hoof! It seemed everything in this illusion only got more and more cryptic, and Moondancer’s patience finally ran dry. “Uggggh, the hay with this!!!” she yelled in frustration as her horn shined even brighter; “I’m just going to dispel this whole stupid illusion! Say goodbye, you stupid eyeball!!! The unicorn mare had skill in casting a fail-safe spell, the primary means of stopping a magic spell or anomaly gone amok, but perhaps she’ll need additional magic from her pals to help power up her fail-safe enough to get rid of such a powerful illusion.

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The stallion nearly jumped out of his horse-shoes as the creepy voice got a little too close for comport. While he did not see the eye, it was still very unsettling to the pony. It also confirmed that this was no simple illusion. Maybe it was an 'Creeping Eye-Spy-Spell'? Or even worse, it could have been an free-roaming, vaporous apparition, or as he would have called it an 'g-g-g-ghost!'
 
moonshineTheleocat, on 10 Mar 2015 - 10:58 PM, said:
“Wait what!?” The stallion chirped, his eyes snapping onto Pocket Change. He… didn’t remember him being in the same school he had been in Canterlot. Was he? Was it in college where he might have seen him? Or was it….. back then.
 
Now it was Pocket Change’s turn to be confused, even more so than usual. “What? What are you whatting me about?”, he asked the stallion while his eyes were still clinched closed. They remained closed until he felt something large and fuzzy touch his face. “Wagh!”, fearful that it was something horrible and possibly a creature of the face-eating variety, the stallion opened his eyes, only to catch sight of a comfortable looking winter jacket that was now hanging from his hook. While he wasn’t one hundred percent sure who had given him this, he slowly opened his eyes as Java hoofed over a few more helpful coats. While he was curious where Java had been keeping all of these coats, he decided there were more important questions to be asked.
 
"Let me lend you some magic.", just a glance of his very favorite mare taking matters into her own hooves gave the unicorn a burst of confidence. After taking position next to Moondancer, he waited, in case Presteza wanted to help as well. Once they were ready, Pocket lit up his horn....
 
 

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“I am whating you about what you said about school!” The stallion responded with his tone shifting to something quieter. His eyes were filled with curiosity when he looked to Pocket. His eyes danced over his appearance for a mere moment, taking every bit of detail about the stallion and rolling them back to something that could possibly look like a foal Pocket Change, he applied that to what he could remember in the past.

Which… wasn’t much of a way to actually help him. Believe it or not, Java was actually a very anti-social foal when he was much younger. He didn’t associate very well with a lot of the other foals in his class. Ask Java why, and he’d simply respond with a soft shrug. And with that in mind… he never actually saw Pocket when he scrounged his memories.
“I don’t think I ever remember seeing yo-“

When the voice spoke up, it was rather disturbing to Java to say the least. Its tone sent shudders down his spine when the words only seemed to echo repeatedly in his ears. The coalition of noises took the stallion by surprise. The sudden sharp break caused the stallion to nearly jump out of his skin after listening a little too closely. The fur on the back of his neck was bristling, easily betraying any tough stallion bravado he might act with later. It was certainly reinforced by the stallion quickly rearing back on his hind legs with wide eyes and his tail tucked between his legs at the closer view of the eye. Though his jaw was open, any scream he could have made was silent.

By the time he settled down, he wearily allowed his eyes to follow the floating eye to the door that it vanished too.

“Right… so no going through that door…” The stallion mumbled lowly, his ears were spun around and pasted down to his skull. It’s fair to say that Java was legitimately creeped out about things. And at the same time, he felt an undeniably seething dread for the party’s location. He still couldn't quite understand why.

 

He didn't ponder on the reason for long when he noticed his friends getting together to form some sort of spell. And well, being an earth pony he was useless there. But he didn't quite feel right with just watching, so he made an attempt at some of the other doors in the hall. He approached the one closest on his right with a sigh and stretched out his hoof to try at the knob. Only... he didn't feel anything. Instead he watched in confusion as the knob had evaporated into some eerily gray and white mist.



"What the buck..." the stallion mumbled as he pulled away from the door. His eyes followed the mist till it was completely gone. The pony licked his lips... and made a second attempt with another door. Only to spot the same results. He tried again... edging his way down the hall, and door after door, the results were all the same until he finally came to the last one. The only one that promised to work. The same one that the eye had disappeared into.

"Oh... you have got to be kidding me," The stallion growled. "Way to give us a choice! I swear under the moon that if something takes my head off..." Though with his last sentence it grew weaker as anxiety grew on him. Knowing that the voice was only tempting them closer to the door did nothing for settling his comfort. His hoof rested on the nob, and gave the door a push. Secretly praying for the best case, and that nothing would blast them to an uncoth demise any sooner.
 

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Presteza wasn't too sure about idea of this being an illusion. She'd been tinkering with a spell that would allow one to travel into a small dimension somewhat similar to a dreamscape; a place that was somewhere between a dream and reality. From what she understood though, it could in theory by dispelled but it would be safer to find the end goal so the story of the scenario that was built was fulfilled, sort of like how an enchanted comic would spit the reader/participant out once they'd hit the last page. If this was an illusion like Moondancer had thought, than it was a darn good one. The unicorn remained silent as she walked over to her friends. Moondancer was much more familiar with the nuances of magic so she could only hoped she knew what she was doing. Pressy closed her eyes and summoned up her magic, joining it with pocket and Moondancer's own... only opening them to look at her coltfriend and make sure nothing yanked him into the darkness.

 

 

"Oh... you have got to be kidding me," The stallion growled. "Way to give us a choice! I swear under the moon that if something takes my head off..." Though with his last sentence it grew weaker as anxiety grew on him. Knowing that the voice was only tempting them closer to the door did nothing for settling his comfort. His hoof rested on the nob, and gave the door a push. Secretly praying for the best case, and that nothing would blast them to an uncoth demise any sooner.

 

 

In the meantime, Java had heeded the voices advice after trying to find any other exits and failing. Pressy smiled as she watched him, He may not have magic but at least he wasn't sittign aroudn doing nothing and waiting for his friends to solve this problem with magic (if they even could).

 

Once the stallion pushed open the door, She saw a bright light flash before dying out and a small purple dot emerging from the door. She was too far away to make out the details but if Java paid attention he would have noticed a violet moth with a glow surrounding it had landed upon his nose and then fluttered off. The Voice within everypony's head once again spoke up in that chorus of calm and cordial voices...

 

"It seems she does not want you to know us yet... very well. The Host will have her way for now..."

 

The mare jumped as she heard the same voice whispering to her as if right behind her, it spoke softly and said. "We'll be in touch." A feeling of intense dread rose up in the painter suddenly as the lights of the gas lamps lining the hall began to slowly dim. She felt something on her fetlocks, was that water? When she glanced down she saw that if it was was water... it was probably incredibly unclean. It was black and gave one a chill just from looking at it and if one stared too long, they might cease to see it as water at all, but like an trembling hole was cut in reality and into a space full of dying stars and barren, cold celestial bodies. The water was quickly rising and it was everywhere, soon going up over the group's legs and too their chests and then their necks ... and then to their heads. The mare broke her magical concentration as she tried to tread in the dark could water but felt like something was trying desperately to pull her back down...

 

"Remember us when you wake, We will Remember you..."

 

The Mare's eyes went wide as she realized something, Java couldn't swim! Immediately Presteza swam away from Moon and Pocket and wrapped a hoof over her coltfriend's side, hoping to keep him afloat as she made her way back to her friends, "When we get outta this... first thing we're doin' is gettin' you swimmin' lessons, lov'"

 

 

luna_moth_by_kindhands.jpg the moth if you're curious. Don't worry about drowning, nopony's gonna die in this scene just be rendered unconscious and wake up in a nother area  :razz:

Edited by Presteza

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BIG PROBLEM! Even with the combined magic of three unicorns, Moondancer couldn’t observe any sign that her spell was having any sort of effect. Those stupid voices were still speaking those stupid cryptic things to the group that they’ve been saying ever since the ponies wandered into the fog. Making matters worse, what could only be described as cursed water started flooding... well, wherever the heck this place was.

 

By now, one horrifying thing was certain to the unnerved Moondancer. “Okay guys,” she gulped through her clenched teeth; “I’m starting to think that I’m dead wrong about my illusion theory. Our fail-safe spell isn’t doing anything!!!” With that cry, the moon-flanked mare powered down her horn momentarily, trying to understand just what was going on and how to respond next within a matter of seconds.

 

If Presteza and Company were not in a dispellable illusion, the only logical conclusion remaining was that they were still experiencing reality. To be more precise, a full-blown imaginary reality that a physical being can be taken to, just like the ones created for enchanted comics. Moondancer understood this realization to mean a very bad thing: unless the unique governing logic for an imaginary reality allows it; dispelling while inside is impossible. Infuriatingly, whatever’s responsible for this mess isn’t allowing any dispelling.

 

Realizing the real danger they were all in now, Moondancer did not hesitate to tightly latch onto Pocket Change’s foreleg as she cast a new spell. This time, it was a simple cantrip; a feather-falling spell that her boyfriend taught her. While the spell was originally intended to slow down falls from high places, the effect of making the caster as light as a feather also provided a means to help them float in water. As the water rose high enough that the floor couldn’t be touched by hooves anymore, a panicky Moony stretched her other foreleg in Pressy’s direction; “Hurry up you two! Try not to drink the water!!!” Silly-sounding advice in a crisis like this, but one could never be too careful concerning liquids found in malicious imaginary realities.

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“Pffft!”, The white stallion let out a tired nicker, “You’re trying to tell me that you never stayed up all night either while trying to either finish a paper that was due the next day, or were cramming for a test? Even pushing yourself to stay awake and realizing you would be taking the test with only one or so hours of sleep? I usually called those days ‘Sunday’ or ‘Thursday’. Depending on the project.” He listened to his friend for a moment before shaking his head, “Well, considering I attended all my schooling from pre to college in Canterlot, while you studied in Manehatten? I’m not even sure when we first met? Convention? That little hobby shop in Canterlot?”

 

Once again Pocket Change showed how quickly he could get distracted. “Oh probably not the best time for that...We’re still in this weird nightmare world.”, he returned to a whisper.And now things were getting a good deal wetter along with the extra dose of creepy. “Eh?”, he immediately knew what spell his favorite mare was casting. “Oh clever.”, he added before the water started to get a little too high. Thankfully the spell was fully ‘sharable’ meaning as it was cast, the mage could grant the effects of the spell to others within reach. Once the foursome were safe, the stallion could only utter.

 

“Now what?”

 

Considering they were in Crazytown, anything could happen!

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THE HORROR! THE ABSOLUTE HORROR! With such poor number of choices… just one choice… they had sealed their doom with the illusion of options! Java stared into the doorway, expecting some horrifying monster to snatch him up and finally end his journey here! The journey well before it ever took off! He had just finally earned the heart of his special pony! AND It was about to be taken away from him at the flash of a light! Oh sweet celestia, have mercy on us all!

 

Sure Java could fight back! But what good would that do? Sure! Earth ponies have quite a bit of strength! But against the supernatural… which was like ninety eight percent of the problems Equestria had, an Earth pony’s strength wasn’t worth more than a pitcher of bodily refuse! And so he braced himself! Hoping that what ever demon waited inside would make it swift!

 

That’s when he saw it… a horrible… purple… moth…

The stallion stood in utter silence, his jaw slackened just slightly. His body gave a slight twitch, and half a dozen masonry bricks fell out of his waist coat’s pocket. His eyes glanced down momentarily, then back up to the moth that fluttered in front of his eyes. He’ll have to figure out why he had those bricks later.

 

Java…. Looked utterly confused when he saw that beautiful little moth flutter its way out of the door, and onto his nose. His eyes studied it curiously, and watched it soon rise up and flutter off.

He listened to the voice… remembering it’s quotes before slowly turning around setting his jaw.

 

He felt something wet build up around his hooves, and he glanced down. Water? Oh buck me. You escape one villan and fall to the grasps of the next it seems.

The stallion galloped his way to his friends, looking to Pocket with confusion.

“Wait! We met at Gaffer’s comic shop. That was when we first met… didn’t we? I… was in a private school for some time in Canterlot…” He went still for a moment, and his eyes fell to the hallway. He gave it a haunted stare. “Oh…. Wow… almost dodged a bullet I did not need…” he mumbled in admittance. He dared not put himself through the experiences the others had and decided to quickly drop it.

Besides they were… well he was about to drown. Even with pressy’s help, it didn’t change the fact that he was a pretty heavy pony. A lot heavier than he actually looked in fact. Blame genetics. He wound up taking his mother’s body, and his father’s density.

 

But it looked like the aid of magic… just tease the one earth pony now… had saved his life for now… letting him float on the surface of the water.

“Well… at least what I lack in magic I got in gadgets…” The stallion sighed, pulling off his waist coat. He took a moment to unbutton the pockets, before flinging it out into the water. It soared through the air for a moment, and then came down with a heavy splash. A splash larger than what it should have created.

And as it sunk… a small spiral could be seen on the surface. It grew larger and and larger till it was almost a full sized whirl pool. Obviously, the coat was some how making an effort at draining the water. But… the stallion blinked when he noticed that only slowed the rise of the water. It bought them seconds. But it wouldn’t be enough at this rate.

 

At least he tried something... but it wasn't really much of anything to raise his already damaged self esteem.

“Ok… so that didn’t work. I guess we drown?”

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After both the magical method and the... unexplained scientific method failed it seemed all hope was lost at the water only continued to rise and rise. That sound tha tpresteza spoke of had only grown louder in her ears, to the point she couldn't hear any of her friends' and her coltfriend's words...

 

The force beneath the water only tugged further and made their attempts to stay afloat utterly futlie as the group eventually exhausted themselves and fell into the depths. Strangely enough the waters didn't bring the painful sensation of drowning but the tiring drifting feeling of sleep as their consciousness began to fade into darkness...

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

A few notes could be heard. The soft notes of a music box, sounding off a rather sad and despair filled tone. There was a strange, rather musty smell in the air along with the faint scent of smoke on the wind. The mare pulled herself to her hooves, rubbing one of them to her head as she felt what like a a constant pounding in the back of skull. Opening her eyes she waited as her vision steadied and grew more clear. The world somehow seemed to have been partialy drained of the lively colors Equestria normally bore. The palette of almost everything around her and her friends seemed to be dull, drab, and dour. A feeling of melancholy and caution all around them as the mare looked over the unconscious and unmoving bodies of her friends...

 

As her headache began to subside she carefully made her way over to the group and nudged each of them, starting with her special somepony, "Oi... you guys ok--" The mare's question was suddenly drowned out by the sound of an utterly in-equine sounding noise. It was almost impossibly low sounding and made the entire groups head's ache just listening to it. Whether it awoke any of her slumbering friends, pressy shot a glance to the skyline just in time to see the spires and roofs of a town with a large clock tower at the center... where should could have sworn she saw something massive and dark slither quickly out of sight. The freckled pony let out a gulp as she looked about the town, faintly hearing disturbed cries and shouts from varying directions but quite a distance away... they had a little bit of time in which they were safe, she hoped, at least.

 

The soft sounds of the music box from earlier grew slightly louder as a shadow appeared on a window of a nearby house, a pale purple moth landing perfectly on top of it as a soft voice spoke, "Travelers, I see... you've picked a terrible time to visit.." the voice belonged to a mare with a curly looking mane, as could be viewed by this oddly detailed silhouette.

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Welp, even the feather-falling spell didn’t work in this nightmarish place. Moondancer’s instincts about the water being funky was correct; usually, being dunked into a pool didn’t make a pony feel sleepy instantaneously. But yet that was what this magic water did, even though Moony tried holding her breath to prevent possible drowning. Therefore, the scared moon-flanked unicorn didn’t even get a chance to attempt swimming up to the surface. Next thing she knew, she was dead asleep.

 

For Moondancer however, it did not take look before her unconscious mind dreamed-up an appropriate scene for her situation. The girl saw herself at a funeral; it looked just like her recollection of Granny Moonswirl’s as a matter of fact. Except all the ponies in attendance were aged as they were now, even Moony who remembered being a young filly when the tragedy occurred. For some reason, Pocket Change was there too, crying his poor heart out even though he and Moony hadn’t even met each other at the time of Granny’s passing. Strangest of all was the depressing background music, which came from some unseen music box somewhere.

 

All in all, it was a rather morbid reimagining of a defining moment in Moondancer’s life. However, it wasn’t horrifying enough to the point where she wanted to wake up, so for now, she let the scene play out. By this point, Moony started believing that the entire trip to Hollow Shades was just some bizarre dream of hers, and that she’d wake up back in her bed in Canterlot.

 

Boy, was she due for a rude awakening once she wakes up alongside her fellow partners.....

Edited by Bellosh101
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The stallion’s confidence was quickly broken as their spells simply did not work. They were all going to drown! This couldn’t happen! He was far too young to die! And there was still so much he needed to do! He never got to finish Jade Singer’s ‘Canter In The Sky’. Yes, he was supposed to read it many years ago as part of the summer reading program at his high school, but he kept putting it off! And there was the ‘One Hundred Fudge Challenge’ he wanted to do...where was it? Sugar Cube Corner? The Canterlot Candyality Company?  He just needed to eat one hundred little fudgies in one sitting to receive a prize! He also never learned how to whistle properly. And Moondancer! Oh no! They never got to go an a proper date!

 

Before the magic water had him, the stallion tried his best to reach the mare, to push her up and save her, but he only managed to touch the very tip of her hoof with his own. At least he hoped it was hers! This was not the last thought he wanted to have before...

 

What horrible noises did he hear! It sounded like an hundred angry hornets were chasing him, and there he was...Running....Through the streets of Canterlot, which normally looked rather cheerful and bright, but instead was on fire! Black creatures who bore both jagged horns and insect like wings were upon him. This was the wedding? But this never happened! He was with his family during the attack. But for some reason, this...whatever it was had him running..and dodging, and using his rather pitiful magic to defend himself against the horde of monsters that were just moments away from overtaking him.

 

Then he noticed where he had been running to. A small pile of ponies who apparently had their life force drained from their bodies. Pocket Change stopped dead in his tracks as he recognized the ‘mummies’. It was his family. His parents. Brother and sister. This wasn’t how it happened. He was with his family for the whole thing. The Changelings attacked and he was knocked out by some falling debris! And why was Moondancer in the pile? As he fired up whatever magic that he could use against the never-ending horde, strange music could be heard. This music came from what appeared to be an old music box that rested on his brother's shriveled up hoof.  His brother, like the rest  of his family who were now very gone...

 

Emerald magic surrounded his body, but this did not come from the insect-ponies, but from his very horn...How could he be doing this? He was never much of a wizard! Something changed in him. He was gong to stop those monsters once and for all...

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Java did his best to suppress a pitiful whimper that was rising in his gut. He watched in horror as he waded his way closer to Pressy. The only thing keeping him up, was that delightful little spell from Moon Dancer. This was how he got to end it all? He had only recently announced his everlasting adoration for his special somepony! And went on a sort-of-a date with her! Perhaps... not the most optimal dating option, and definitly not standard. After all, most would probably choose a mediocre dinner, than dancing to the Grim-FRIGGIN-Reaper's razor!

 

He wrapped his hooves in an embrase around the mare and gave her one last kiss before the water finally consumed him. Yep... it felt just like going under. A soft whoosh. Everything running cold. His ears plugged with water. Noises being distorted. Next to come... the sweet... sweet sensation of painful drowning. But... that never came.

No... he just felt... like his energy was being sucked away. Slowly at first... then gradually pulling him into a soft slumber. He was fine with this. It'd just mean he'd be unconscious while he shuts down... But... was dying... really supposed to feel like this?

The stallion's eyes squinted a bit, as he felt weightless. He contemplated the thought of opening his eyes once more... and risk seeing three bodies among him. And knowing such a sight would break his heart, he went through with it.

His eye lids scrunched together tightly, bracing himself mentally for what he was about to see... then they were open.

Only what he saw... he wasn't prepped for.

 

All around him was a field of stars. With one just ahead of him being the brightest. It was no sun... as the corona effect it had was bizarre.

 

And standing before it, was a pony. A Pegasus. A Pegasus with a naturally stern resting expression. His eyes hidden behind dark sun-glasses that glinted with the light of the exploding star. His mane wavy and curled, was combed back quite professionally, and hanging from his neck was a tie.

“G-grandpa Mandelbrot?” Java stammered in disbelief... taking a step back. He really was dead!

“What comes after the end, Voronoi?” The older pony hummed. His head tilting back some, catching just enough light to allow his pupils to be visible.

 

“Uhh...” Java began. That familiar joyful tone from his Grandpa... just seemed absent. It was far from thoughtful, more like a revelation? This... just made the pony more terrified as he redoubled over his surroundings with a panicked expression.

“After the life long pursuit of seeking knowledge. The exposure to the all the world has to offer. Misery, torment, Happiness, love? Thirsting for more once the journey comes to an end, and being doomed to live an eternity in a void... or are you simply recycled endlessly, and bear no recollection of the past?”
 

Java quickly turned his head back to Mande – No... he wasn't there. Though he heard his voice once more. He turned again, and found him standing right beside him, gazing off to the exploding star.

“No pony knows. The end is always a terrifying thought. Life beyond death. Die and live again...” he droned softly, giving a soft shake of his head. He was wearing a shadow of a smile. “It's just a thought. Or is it a lie we tell ourselves... that something does exist after the terminal breath? A fear? Your fear as well. Was it really the spiders you were scared of? Or was it the corpses you saw in their layer?”

Java backed away slowly... he could hear drumming. The stars pulsed around him anxiously.

“Look of terror... the final glimpses of their life... and the gaze of dissatisfaction and disappointment.” Mandelbrot spared him a thoughtful glance, then took to the sky, circling around his grandson. “Yyyesss... that was it. You work so anxiously to make other ponies happy. Make their dreams come true. Give them something to make their day brighter, so you can feel relief in a coffin. But in the end... you're only destroying yourself. Worrying so much about that end... that you can't see what's around you. The mare of your dreams, you heart-brokenly kept quiet about till she was available again. The insufferable idiot you harass. Here's some advice, my grandson. Journey then Destination.”

The Pegasus now landed in front of him. A calm and eriee smile met Java's eyes. It sent shivers down his spine as he tried to take a step back... only to realize he took one too large... which sent him falling into oblivion.

“It's time to wake up. Rise and shine, Voronoi. Wake up... and smell the ashes.”

 

And wake up was what Java did. His body launched into the air with his hooves flailing about. His voice echoing throughout the town, screaming bloody murder.

 

Once he landed on his back, he quickly rolled onto his hooves, his eyes searching for something! Anything! Preferably his little displacer beast plush back home! But... he hesitated. This wasn't home! Oh storms this was real! HE WANTED TO GO HOME! What will be of his beloved feline!? What will be of Pressy!

Everything around him, dull gray, colorless! Oh STORMS! He was dead! He was about to let out a long caterwauling cry in defeat. But... he caught himself just right after his jaws fell open his head rolled back.

His eyes settled on a familiar sight. Pressy! Pressy was with him!? Oh no! This is worst! Or... was it good? They were together! But what about-

His jaws snapped close... and his head resetted... he glanced down... spotting two more ponies. They were with him too!? Oh no! None of them survived! This was a total failure! A total party whipe out! AND THAT DRUMMING! That annoying drumming!

WAIT! It was familiar! That sour taste in his mouth! Adrenaline? Then... the drumming was a heart beat! He was alive! YES! That means they were all alive? Or... maybe...

The stallion quickly moved forward, slamming his ear into Pressy's chest. Heart beat? Check! Then Taco! Heart beat? CHECK! Lastly, Moondancer! CHECK!

All alive! Joyous day! They survived! The stallion gave a quick sigh of relief. Then looked to Pressy... whom seemed to be staring off to space at something. So... he followed her gaze... and blinked at the familiar sight.
 

It was around this time... that the drumming of his heart faded, and all he could hear was sad music. The kind of music one would use for a really strange indie film.

“This... is starting to get... surreal...” The pony commented loudly. He remained still for a moment, and then glanced to Pressy... then back down to their friends. A few seconds later, he began to work at pulling their bodies onto his back. Might as well be useful, sense he's an earthpony.

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Pressy practically leapt out of her skin when Java let out that almost eardrum shattering scream, so much for keeping it quiet huh? Well at the very least she could count on that loud noise to jar Moondancer and Pocket Change from their sleep. 

 

The cream colored painter let a slight smile creep on to her lips as she saw that java was his usual self, Eyes still scanning around the area for information and trying to assess the situation. His first action of checking for a heartbeat brought out a surprised yelp from the painter followed by a blush, "Heh... welcome ta the wakin' world, Java." She said before pulling the coffee scented stallion into a hug and sighing relief to have him conscious and himself. The silhouette on the window behind the couple was chuckling. 

 

"Very sweet, But I'm sorry to say that display of affection aren't going to help you on this journey... and if you think this is surreal, Sir, you should see what's lurking in those streets. I could let you in this place but it won't be safe for long... and there's no telling how long the other members of our community will remain themselves... or even how long I might remain the same." she let out an almost said chuckle before turning warily behind her, "It seems our time to talk is nearing it's end... I can't take up too much of the story y'know. I hate exposition dumps..." Soon the moth resting on the window fluttered off and the light behind the shadow began to fade. If one looked carefully, the group coudl see the vaguest outline of something approaching the mare from behind before she was seemingly yanked out of view and the light source within the building died.

 

A moment or two passed and then the door creaked open. Pressy swallowed her fear and stepped up, peeking inside and then opening the door fully. The inside of the house looked untouched, there were many note and documents and ledgers littering the floor. There was absolutely no sign of the mare who had spoken to them moments earlier... not light source that could have caused the silhouette either. Everything in the house was coated in a thick layer of dust as if nopony had set hoof in here for months.

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